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Welcome to the web site of Colin J. McRoberts!

My goal is simple: to put a piece of functional artwork in your hands. 

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CIGAR BOX GUITAR

 

The cigar box, as we know it today, traces its origin back to the American Civil War.  Then as today, it was a means of shipping, storing, and preserving cigars.  No one knows exactly how they began, but it appears that, as long as there have been cigar boxes there have been cigar box guitars.  Pencil drawings dating back to the war show soldiers sitting around the campfire playing guitars and fiddles fashioned out of what appear to be cigar boxes.

 

They became most popular during the depression as an instrument of poverty.  People were making things from whatever was at hand, so if you had a cigar box, a broom handle, and some bailing wire or anything remotely resembling those things, you could make an instrument.

 

The unique sounds of the cigar box guitar became a staple if not a major influence of Appalachian bluegrass, Delta blues, and even Chicago jazz to some degree.  Many undisputedly great musicians got their start by this means including Roy Clark, B. B. King, Jimi Hendrix, and eight time Grammy winner George Bennson just to name a few.

 

Today it is no longer an instrument of poverty, with the ready availability of inexpensive guitars at Wal-Mart and from various sources on the Internet.  The cigar box guitar is enjoying a Renaissance in modern culture as a piece of functional folk art.  Though it has almost always been a principle instrument in the traditional jug band and has never lost its grip on bluegrass, it is being rediscovered as a tool of jazz and the blues.  Contemporary country artists like Hank Williams III have also greatly contributed to the cigar box’s rising from the ashes.  It has also become the principle instrument in the Prim Rock (or Primitive Rock) movement.  These modern bands play on instruments that are almost exclusively hand made from “found” items.

The latest creation:

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So what else is new?
 

Testimonials!

Special off to merchants!

Please get in touch to inquire about custom designs for cigar box guitars and diddley bows!

You can e-mail me at:

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Guitars That Smoke * Custom cigar box guitars & diddley bows * Pittsburgh * PA * USA